If you ask anyone where they want to be on the holiday, I guarantee that no one would say they want to be in the hospital as a patient or employee. However, I think we can agree that being a patient is the worst of the two. Patients are missing their families and sick enough to require admission. Nurses are working but can make the patient’s day a little brighter. But how, you ask?
Bedside Practices to Bring Holiday Cheer to Your Patients
Here are 10 easy tips to cheer up your patients on the holiday. These tips can vary depending on the severity of your patient or the unit you work on. Gather ideas from your patients by asking about their favorite holiday memories. Incorporate some holiday cheer by:
- Decorating – If the patient likes the holiday season, ask if you can make their room a little festive. You can string some battery powered LED lights, hang a stocking, put up a Christmas tree, or hang some mistletoe.
- Art – Art therapy can help patients heal. Help patients create unique art projects like an ornament for the unit Christmas tree or a card for another sick patient. Be sure to abide by HIPAA compliance and patient safety.
- Game room – Have patients play games to win prizes. If you have a common area, make it a game room for the day. Bingo and card games are always a low key idea. If a patient cannot make it to the room, have a coloring contest.
- Santa visit – We have seen it when Santa visits children in the hospital, but what about the elderly? Having Santa visit can bring a smile and a childhood memory for a sick patient.
- Play music – Music is proven to be a comfort to sick patients. Play some joyful Christmas carols to liven up the hospital during the holiday season. Ask a local school choir to sing holiday music for patients.
- Talk and listen – Talk to your patients, but most importantly, listen. Ask them about their family traditions and what they do in their home during the holidays. Ask what they wanted most for Christmas as a child.
- Technology – Use technology to help your patients connect with family. Some patients are uncomfortable using their mobile phone or computer. Help them get connected and surprise their family with a face-to-face interaction using Facetime or Skype.
- Give your patients a gift – A small token can go a long way. Think about picking up something small for your patients to show that you are thinking of them during the holiday. Ideas include a stocking, non-slip Christmas socks, or a new holiday mug.
- Dress the part – If your hospital allows festive wear, put on a holiday scrub top, antlers, Santa hat or lighted necklace to bring the holiday flare.
- Recipe book – Ask your patients their favorite holiday recipe and make a collection every year for patients to share. Give a book to patients and staff to use over and over again. Make some of the recipes next year and get the new patients to provide their recipes, too.
Working the holidays isn’t the best place to be, but being a patient is worse. Make your patients’ smile by trying some of these creative tips this holiday season! You will enjoy bringing a smile to their face. Try to add more to this list. Brainstorm with your staff to help support the “work family” feel this holiday season.
Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.